The Kodak Moment…Wait Just a Moment

I’ve always been skeptical when I see the “Kodak moment” metaphor being used as some kind of oracular call for institutional change: “Adapt or go the way of the dinosaurs…and Kodak!” The ominous admonition works so well precisely because it is a dramatic illustration of how historically dominating institutions can fail spectacularly when they opt for status quo success instead of embracing already visible changes. All you need is a dominant institution (like private law firms generally and BigLaw specifically) and some obvious technological or market changes (like AI and legal process outsourcing) and…voila!…you’ve got yourself a Kodak moment.  Continue reading “The Kodak Moment…Wait Just a Moment”

The Atomic Unit of BigLaw

 

Clash of Cultures - © 2016 Brenton B. Miller
Clash of Cultures

In my post about about analytics here, I noted that the challenge of performing certain analytics tasks in the legal domain is simplified by the well-defined and publicly accessible caselaw source data used in the analysis:

The cases themselves are uniquely named and codified, as are the jurisdictions, courts and judges. Parties/roles and names of counsel, litigants and other participants have been vetted. Even softer metadata like issues, actions, and outcomes have been successfully extracted and disambiguated. Of course, all of this high quality data is continuously supported by a stable court system and a large private publishing infrastructure. The result is a target-rich content environment for analytics and one that accommodates relatively simple user interfaces. Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for legal work not directly or completely circumscribed by court filings (and to a lesser extent, certain regulatory proceedings). Factor in all of the ancillary activity inside of the law firms related to this sometimes rich but more often impoverished external data, and you have the kind of complexity that can’t be untangled by analytics alone. 

Let’s explore this observation a bit further in the context of how law firms manage matters by starting with a rather philosophical question: What is a matter? The answer depends on which part of the elephant you’re blindly feeling, but generally speaking there are two ways to answer the question: Continue reading “The Atomic Unit of BigLaw”

Dabbling

In my last post, The Headlong Rush Into Analytics, I dabbled with several analytics tools to graph the undergraduate majors of law school attendees over a recent 14-year period. Ask a real data scientist if “dabbling” is the right word for describing my little experiment and the response will probably be some combination of rolled eyes, grumbling and sighs. That’s what experts in any field of endeavor tend to do when they come across a layperson dabbling in their specialty. Each and everyone of us has done our share of dabbling, and we’ve all probably reacted with disdain when viewing the dabbling of others in our own areas of expertise. I know for certain that I’ve often enough snorted at the amateurish efforts of others who ignorantly comment on KM or, worse yet, roll out some application and call it a knowledge management initiative.

What is it about dabbling that makes it so irritating and yet so strangely irresistible to those of us involved in knowledge management? Think about it. Dabbling is in some respects a precursor or catalyst for KM. You might even say that the purpose of KM is to harness the curiosity and confidence that compels one to dabble and to guide it in a structured way toward just-in-time understanding. In short, knowledge management is supervised dabbling! Continue reading “Dabbling”